Since its inception in 1984, management at Wam Metals has had the goal of manufacturing completed, fully assembled components for their customers, combining flexible manufacturing with volume production capabilities within its niche of brass, aluminium and copper components and assembled products.
More recently the company has added plastic injection moulded components to its long list of component and product offerings.
“We have been very progressive in our research and development to investigate manufacturing components and products that can be replaced with plastics. In some cases, where the integrity of the components cannot be compromised, we have designed and developed them so they are assembled or manufactured combining both metal and plastic. Our progression in this area is due to the rising cost of the non-ferrous metals and the continuing theft of products manufactured from these metals,” explained Nigel Brown, MD of Wam Metals.
Wam Metals have moved into a new 12 500m² facility in Benoni, which is six times the size they previously had. The company has added a number of Tongtai CNC machines to their machining department and tool room section
Wam Metals manufactures and machines many different brass, copper or aluminium components
New development – Wam Metals has purchased a 3D printer so as to drastically reduce the numerous hours in product development. The 3D printer in this shop supports machining by simplifying prototyping and to help customers validate their designs
“An example of this is in 2012 we designed and developed a plastic drain cock for geysers which was previously manufactured from brass. The drain cock has been tested by The South African Bureau of Standards to SABS 1808-53, and carries the SABS mark.”
“Such has been our success and penetration in this area is that we now have over 700m² of space dedicated to our plastic production capabilities, which includes seven injection moulding machines ranging in sizes from 30 to 430 ton.”
New facility demonstrates growth
“The growth in this capacity, as well in our other areas of activity forced us to seek a larger and more modern facility. We were falling over each other and the machines in our 2500m² factory in Skew Road, Anderbolt, Boksburg, Gauteng. In fact we were losing money because of the volatile production environment that we found ourselves in, and it could no longer offer the infrastructure required to support the business.”
“Our efficiencies had virtually reached rock-bottom and production capacities were starting to be affected. It also left us no room for growth and adding more processes to our range of capabilities.”
Wam manufactures over 600 000 components for local and international customers, with 25% of the demand destined for the international markets. For this reason the company has now invested in an Automator Vis 20 watt laser marker supplied by Traceability Solutions
In the tool room Wam Metals have added a Tongtai TMV-720A vertical machining centre, a Tongtai TMV-1050A vertical machining centre and a Tongtai TMV 510 Super Tapmill 3-axis vertical machining centre, all supplied by PBS Machine Tools. This compliments their existing two Tongtai machines and a Deckel Maho DMC 70V hi dyn CNC vertical machining centre
Wam Metals have added eight new Tongtai CNC machines to the machine shop including a Tongtai TMV-720A vertical machining centre
“We looked for a new location with the proviso that it must allow the company room to achieve objectives, such as the layout must minimise product throughput time and material handling, so that the company can offer the most competitive lead times and effective use of our machines and equipment.”
“Fortunately we found a building a few kilometres away in Benoni that did have some drawbacks but ones that we could solve. We added 4500m² to it, did some renovating and we now have 12 500m², which is six times the space we had previously. It gave us an open canvass and we have taken particular care to group machines and equipment into cells, while keeping the different production divisions separate.”
“We now have clearly demarcated areas which include a small sand foundry, the continuous casting foundry, a pressure die casting machine, an extrusion press operation that is robotically loaded, the forging and clipping area that includes our two NC saws and five bandsaws, a heat treatment area and a cleaning and fettling area that includes shot blasting equipment and polishing bowls.”
“As done previously, we have a dedicated tool room that has a spark eroder, surface grinder, three milling machines, two conventional lathes and two high speed CNC mould making machining centres that are specifically employed to manufacturing new dies and moulds, and maintain existing ones as well as any other equipment in the organisation.”
Included in the line up are two new Tongtai HS-22 Series CNC lathes with robotic loading and unloading for small component batch machining
Wam Metals now have 14 machining centres and 15 CNC lathes, four of them with bar feeders, in the machine shop
“We keep the machine shop as a separate entity for obvious reasons, one of them being that we can run production batches of many hundreds, whereas the tool room is like a job shop.”
“I have already mentioned the plastic injection moulding area which is housed in a separate building so as to not have any contamination, and last but not least we now have a dedicated maintenance shop and assembly area.”
New equipment new processes
“Wam has always invested in its processes and equipment such as high speed fully automated robotic fed CNC machines to reduce time and cost factors.”
“This has now been further enhanced with three new Tongtai CNC machines added to the tool room and eight new Tongtai CNC machines added to the machine shop.”
“In the tool room we have added a Tongtai TMV-720A vertical machining centre, a Tongtai TMV-1050A vertical machining centre and a Tongtai TMV 510 Super Tapmill 3-axis vertical machining centre. This compliments our existing two Tongtai machines and a Deckel Maho DMC 70V hi dyn CNC vertical machining centre.”
“We have added five extra machining centres in the machine shop, a Tongtai CNC mill turn lathe TB 25YB and two Tongtai HS-22 Series CNC lathes with robotic loading and unloading for small component batch machining. We now have 14 machining centres and 15 CNC lathes, four of them with bar feeders, in the machine shop.”
Wam Metals has always had the goal of manufacturing completed, fully assembled components for their customers, combining flexible manufacturing with volume production capabilities within its niche of brass, aluminium and copper components and assembled products
Clearly demarcated areas include a small sand foundry
“All of these new machines are Tongtais supplied by PBS Machine Tools, which were installed since we moved into our new facility. Some have four and five axis capabilities.”
Laser marking machine
Wam manufactures over 600 000 components for local and international customers, with 25% of the demand destined for the international markets. For this reason the company has now invested in an Automator Vis 20 watt laser marker supplied by Traceability Solutions.
Tin plating plant
A new development in the company has been the installation of a tin plating plant. The bath, which is two and half metres long by one metre wide and was designed and manufactured locally, carries out barrel plating for the smaller components and hanging plating for the larger components. It is envisaged that the company will add nickel plating in the future.
New development – 3D printer
“Production jobs for additive manufacturing have been slow to come to the shop in South Africa, in part because customers are not yet familiar enough with the capability to design components with additive manufacturing in mind,” says Production Director Gavin Homan.
“To many, additive technology is practically synonymous with rapid prototyping. An additive process such as 3D printing in which CAD data is used to effortlessly generate a detailed and tangible physical model by building it in layers would seem to offer the ideal way to obtain a prototype part, but customers are hesitant,” Homan continued.
Other capabilities of Wam Metals include a continuous casting foundry, a pressure die casting machine, an extrusion press operation that is robotically loaded, a forging and clipping area, a heat treatment area, a cleaning and fettling area that includes shot blasting equipment and polishing bowls, plastic injection moulding and tin plating
The company also has two Everising NC saws and five Everising bandsaws
“We see 3D printing as being essential to a company’s services, especially for a company like ours that dedicates numerous hours to product development. For this company, 3D printing now provides the starting point for practically every new job that we contract, as well as for the prospective client. We already offer reverse engineering, however this relatively new technology of 3D printing is transforming how we operate. More importantly, the costs it saves in time and money as compared to the old way whereby you made the mould or die and then proceeded to make the component are enormous. In hours you can have a component that a customer can touch and feel and see. You are also able to experiment and explore new markets,” explained Homan.
“Uncertainty about future business is a contributing factor to this reluctance, but just as relevant is the fact that the successful companies, especially manufacturers, have learnt to embrace new technologies.”
“Equally you have to do more with the resources that you have. For the most part, we have accomplished this by having our employees work smarter, not harder. This has enabled us to increase capacity and increase turnover while not increasing our staff compliment.”
Wam Metals has been an ISO 9001:2000 listed company since 2006 and, having started as a manufacturer of non-ferrous products, steel and plastic components have now been added to the company’s list of products and components manufactured. The range of capabilities includes design, castings, aluminium die casting, extrusion, forging, machining, plastic injection moulding, steel fabrication, finishing, assembly and packaging.
The company is also able to manufacture and alloy any brass, copper or aluminium material, and they analyse all material using their spectrometers so as to ensure all material conforms to international material standards or customer requirements.
Wam Metals currently employs 112 staff.
For further details contact Wam Metals on TEL: 011 748 7420 or visit www.wammetals.co.za